Examples of Experience-Based Interview Questions in Criminal Justice

When you go through the hiring process for criminology and criminal justice careers, there’s a good chance you will have to face some sort of oral interview. One key to success on any oral board interview is to anticipate the kind of questions you’ll be asked so you can better prepare strong, well thought-out answers. 

Typically, you can expect two types of questions: scenario or situational questions and experience-based questions. To help you better prepare for your next interview, I’ve identified some examples of experience-based questions for criminal justice careers and tips on how to answer them:

Tell Us What You've Done to Prepare for This Job

Criminal investigation department
KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

This question provides a great opportunity for you to demonstrate how serious you take the job and how dedicated you really are to the field you’re trying to break into.

Your potential employer is looking for you to discuss not only your education but what experiences you have that make you the right person for the job.

Talk About a Conflict You Had with a Coworker

The purpose of this question is to see how you handle interpersonal conflicts. What employers are looking for is a picture of the steps you would take to resolve an issue with a coworker in a polite, professional and workplace-appropriate way. 

To answer this question, you’ll want to provide background on what the issue was, why it was an issue, what you did to resolve the issue, and what the final outcome was.

Talk About a Time You Made a Tough Ethical Decision

More so than most any other profession, criminal justice, and criminology careers require a high standard of ethical behavior. This question helps employers get a glimpse of what sorts of issues you view as potential ethical dilemmas and how you approach them.

Ultimately, employers want to see that you can recognize right from wrong and that you will act accordingly.

Explain the problem and how you approached it. Be sure to include whether or not you would do anything differently if you had to do it all over again.

Describe a Complex Problem You Had to Solve

In this question, your potential employers are looking for insight into how you react when faced with a difficult task or assignment. When answering this question, discuss what the assignment was and what about it made it difficult. 

Be sure to detail what steps you took to get the job done and how you prioritized those steps. Finally, talk about how it all turned out and what you learned during the process.

Describe a Work Process That Didn't Go as Planned

This question is designed to see how you may react to–and hopefully overcome–adversity. Employers want to know you can change gears and regroup if needed, and that you can recognize when something isn’t working.

When you provide an answer to this question, you want to talk about the task you were trying to get done, the process you were using, why it failed, how you recognized that it wasn’t working and what steps you took to resolve the issue.

Make sure you tell the interviewer whether or not your new plan worked and, if not, what you might do differently in the future.

Describe a Time You Disagreed with a Supervisor

Here, your employer wants to know how you respond when you don’t like what your boss–or your chain of command–is asking you to do.

Don’t worry; employers typically won't mind if you disagreed with a superior. What they want to see is how you handled that disagreement.
Ideally, you expressed your concerns privately and respectfully to your supervisor and supported whatever final action was ultimately decided.

Be sure you articulate your reason for the disagreement, what you did to better understand the reason for the policy, and what alternative solutions you may have offered.

Score Interview Success

When answering experience-based questions, there are some important things you need to do with every question. First of all, be honest. Don’t try to make up a situation. Instead, draw on your own life experiences. Second, provide all of the relevant details. Don’t rush through your answers, but instead provide clear, organized and detailed answers.

Finally, answer all parts of whatever question is asked and take the opportunity to show the interviewer that you are exactly who they are looking for.